How To: Ask the Right Questions About Your Competitors Social Media

By February 6, 2013 How To No Comments

Quantitative analysis of social mediaWith social media on the agenda for over 90% of marketers, you can’t sneeze without finding a tool to monitor your own, or your competitors, social media performance.

For example, take Wildfire, a great free app you can use to monitor the behaviour of up to three Facebook pages and three Twitter profiles. It will show growth in likes, check-ins and followers, allowing you to see how you stack up against the metrics of your competitors.


Open Site Explorer can give you a snapshot of Tweets, followers, +1’s or likes of any website, but these metrics aren’t that accurate, and it is recommended to double-check the numbers on the actual profiles.

But nearly all of these tools have one thing in common – they are mostly reporting on the quantitative aspects of social media – the metrics which can easily be counted. These statistics are fantastic for finding out the number of people a profile is reaching, how much they like things, how much they engage – but this is only half the story. Your quantitative analysis might show amazing volumes, response rates and engagements – but then you might see that all the comments are spam or negative. You really need the rest of the information.

The qualitative analysis is harder to outsource to a third party tool, and in fact, why would you even want to? Looking first hand through your competitor’s profiles to get qualitative information may take a lot more time, but it will also tell you a lot more. It can give you insights into what works and what doesn’t. It can inspire your own campaigns. It can alert you to relationships you didn’t know existed.

To look into the qualitative side of social media performance, you might want to ask some of the following questions;

  1. Are they proactively working on social media?

    • What social media sites do they use?
    • Are they currently active?
    • How many profiles do they have? e.g. do they have profiles for corporate, customer service, recruitment, internal?
    • Are their updates automated, or do they put a lot of effort into crafting them?
    • Are they interacting with other pages or people, or is their communication all one-way?
  2. Where do they promote their profiles?

    BirdsEye Social Media

    • Where on their site do they have the buttons?
    • Do they cross-promote between social media platforms?
    • Do they include it in newsletters?
    • Do they have offline awareness-raising?
  3. Do they actively pursue engagement?

    • How do they encourage interaction?
    • How do they respond to comments?
    • Do they run competitions or other promotions to increase engagement?
  4. AAMI on Twitter

    Content Quality

    • Which topics/themes do they post about?
    • Which topics/themes are most successful?
    • What content types do they use?
    • What percentage of their updates are visual?
    • What percentage of their updates are self-promotional?
    • What percentage of their updates are industry-specific?
    • Do they share others’ content?
    • What language do they use?
    • What tabs and special features from each platform do they use?

This is not an exhaustive list, but is a good start to digging in to your competitors behaviours online. Obviously, what you do with this qualitative analysis will depend partly on the quantitative results – is this stuff working?

Unfortunately, this information and insight not something which remains static over time – you will want to revisit these questions at least monthly to see how things change.

You might want to undertake this analysis on;

  • Competitors
  • People/pages in your industry that you think have a great social media presence (inspiration!)
  • Pages outside of your industry that are great at social media

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